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Leeds pay the penalty for allowing Derby comeback
Wednesday, 1st Nov 2017 18:41 by Tim Whelan

Leeds were on top for the first hour of this game, but Derby County came from behind to win with a very debatable late penalty.

Thomas Christansen made three changes to the starting line-up, two of which were enforced. Jansson came in for Cooper and his ‘dead leg’, and Roofe replaced the suspended Phillips, and was asked to play wide on the right. Dallas was back for the first time after time off due to a family bereavement, and it was his turn to have a go at being left back.

Before the start the man in the seat next to me was very critical of Lasogga, informing me his mate had taken the trouble to observe that it took him 34 minutes to touch the ball against Sheffield United. So no doubt they were delighted that it took the big man only seven minutes to make a decisive contribution this time round.

Vieira dispossessed Huddlestone and the ball ran through to Saiz, who took it to the edge of the box before playing an excellent pass into the path of Lasogga. The German’s shot was close to Scott Carson, but struck so powerfully that our former keeper had no chance of keeping it out. The goal seemed to lift Leeds, as we began to pay with the intensity that had been missing in recent weeks (Bristol City excepted) and continued to create chances.

And we should have had a great opportunity to go further in front when Roofe took the ball to the byline before sending over an excellent cross, and Alioski appeared to be wrestled to the floor by Derby’s beast of a right back.

The ref waved play on, and that was the first of two big penalty decisions on the night, neither of which went in our favour. Thomas Christiansen appears to be a mild-mannered man most of the time, but another side of his character came out as he angrily confronted the fourth official to protest (see our photo gallery).

As half time approached there were worrying signs that Derby were starting to get back into the game, as they began to enjoy a bit of possession. You’d expect a team managed by Gary Rowett to be made of stern stuff, and they had hit a run of good form coming into this game. Yet at the start of the second half we again began brightly, looking for the second goal that could have killed the game off.

Carson needed to tip a shot from O’Kane over the bar, then Lasogga appeared to have missed a great chance when a cross from Saiz found him unmarked right in front of goal. He had to stretch for the ball and could only put it wide, but the linesman spared his blushes with the offside flag.

There was also a moment when Saiz won the ball inside the Leeds half and beat several players on the way through, but he seemed to want to score the perfect goal instead of looking for a pass, and he shot well over from outside the box. At the other end Chris Martin forced Lonegran into a good save, and that was the first sign that Leeds were beginning to fade and let Derby back into the game.

Roofe was struggling on the right (he clearly prefers to play more centrally) but I had some sympathy for him on one occasion when he was jeered by the crowd after failing to control an overhit pass from Lasogga. But his unwillingness to track back and help Ayling with defending that flank was to cost us dear in the 72nd minute.

When a long ball sent Forsyth down the Derby left Roofe was only jogging, and consequently the Derby man had plenty of time to get the cross in before Roofe got anywhere close to closing him down. Winnall was surrounded by three defenders in the centre, but he was the one who got to the ball first and had no trouble in directing it home from close range.

And Derby could have gone in front straight away when a quickly taken free kick saw the defence napping and Roofe was perilously close to turning the cross into his own net. A few minutes later Roofe was substituted in favour of Sacko, a change that more than a few of the crowd would have made a lot earlier.

We could have gone back in front when Saiz sent over a cross towards Lasogga and at the far post, but it was a little too high for Alioski, and he sent it wide when it might have been better for him to leave it for the centre forward. But the worst was yet to come, as Derby took the lead with ten minutes left, thanks to another controversial decision.

If Roofe’s lack of willingness to defend contributed to the first goal, the second was down to his replacement being too quick to get back, and then panicking when trying to defend. Sacko made a needless challenge on Lawrence when Ayiling was coming across to block the danger, and there is no doubt the contact was made outside the area.

But Lawrence’s momentum took him into the box before he went down, and the referee pointed to the spot. This time Christiansen took out his displeasure on an unfortunate water bottle (see gallery) but Winnall calmly stepped up and rolled the penalty into the net as Lonegran dived the wrong way.

Our head coach responded by throwing Grot and Hernandez into the fray in place of Pennington and Alioski, but the best we could muster in the closing stages was a shot from Lasogga that cleared the bar. Otherwise we didn’t look like scoring as Derby fell back and we resorted to lumping the ball towards the two big men up front, who rarely looked like winning the it in the air, and on at least one occasion got in each other’s way going for the same ball.

Five mintues of injury time weren’t enough to force an equaliser, and so we went down to another frustrating defeat in a game when we should have got at least a draw. After the game Christiansen complained bitterly about the decisions when he spoke to Radio Leeds, and although the pundits accused him of “deflecting the blame”, he was entitled to feel aggrieved at the way things went against us.

So where do we go from here? Clearly we need to be able to keep up the pace and fluency for a full ninety minutes and to cut out the basic errors at the back. But on Saturday we face another team who have run into form in recent weeks, so it’s not getting any easier. Somehow we are still in the top six, but we need to stop the rot pretty soon before this turns into yet another wasted season.

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Photo: Action Images

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